First Year Offensive Coordinator Likes What He Sees Early in Fall Camp
Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Wade Rackley)
For the first time in the Head Coach Gus Malzahn era, there will be a new leader of the offense, Chip Lindsey.
Lindsey comes to Auburn after spending 2016 at Arizona State as offensive coordinator under Head Coach Todd Graham. While at ASU, Lindsey will be remembered for coaching running back Kalen Ballage, a power running back who scored eight touchdowns against Texas Tech.
Despite being on the West Coast for a year, Lindsey is best known in the high school ranks in both Alabama and Georgia. He led Spain Park High School in Hoover to 15 wins in two seasons from 2011-12, and coached Auburn legend Philip Lutzenkirchen, as well as former Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Georgia.
Auburn fans have not yet gotten a taste of Lindsey's mind, but just know... he has plenty of inheritance to work with.
On offense, Auburn will being 2017 with quality depth at receiver and line, one of the most talented running back duos in the SEC, and two experienced quarterbacks. He spoke with the media at the conclusion of day three of fall camp, and hit on those topics.
This has been the most talked about topic for Auburn Football since Jarrett Stidham announced his commitment to Auburn in December of 2016... who will lead the Auburn offense in 2017? Stidham comes from Baylor, where he started three games for the Bears in 2015 before leaving the school and transferring to a junior college, sitting out a season of football in 2016. He will battle Sean White, a rising junior that has started in 16 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Lindsey first mentioned White, and what he has done since being limited due to injury in spring practice.
"I like what I have seen with Sean," said Lindsey. "I like where Sean’s mindset is, he is here to work and compete, and so far it has been really good.”
With Stidham, Lindsey feels that he needs more time to become comfortable in the system.
"I think for Jarrett, it’s getting comfortable with our wide outs and the timing of different plays and understanding the timing against every look. We run one play, then there’s five different defenses that you need to know where to go with the ball just for one play. Imagine adding 10 or 12 plays, that adds up. The more he sees the looks, the more he sees and gets the reps, the better he will get."
Malzahn mentioned on Monday that the offensive line will be set around the two-week period of fall camp, Lindsey is not quite ready to use that method for naming a starting quarterback.
"I don’t really think that we have a target date. I want to seem them in different situations, it’s going to take a little time for those situations to play out before we make a decision. We are going to make one, but it will be more of we will know when we know kind of thing."
Some of the situations that Malzahn and Lindsey will use to evaluate the quarterbacks include: redzone, two-minute drill, third-down, among others. While those drills will be a great way to evaluate talent, Lindsey is also looking for someone that can lead the remaining ten guys on the field the same way as a coach would.
Lindsey is also inheriting two experienced backs in Kam Pettway and Kerryon Johnson. These backs having veteran status is relaxing to Lindsey, because of their understanding of splitting carries. Lindsey mentions that there is no set schedule of which back will get the most carries, it will be determined by package, game plan, and whoever is the most successful at any given time.
There is a competition for the third and fourth string backs, of course.
"“I feel good about it, we still have some guys that we are evaluating, trying to find that third and fourth guy between Malik (Miller) and Kam (Martin). We have Devan (Barrett) now, we have a good nucleus there, we are kind of looking to see who steps up and plays that role for us."
Mentioned earlier, the offensive line has plenty of experience returning in Austin Golson, Braden Smith, and Darius James. Joining the line this season will be All-American Casey Dunn, and former Florida State lineman Wilson Bell. Having "the numbers" excites Lindsey. He also mentions that the younger linemen are working hard, and finding a spot that fits them the best.
For Dunn and Bell, Lindsey thinks that both will contribute to the team this season.
"I think that both of them will play a big role for us at some point. Where and when? I’m not sure yet, but I am glad that they are here.”
For Auburn, the tight end position has not been utilized in the last two seasons as opposed to when the likes of Philip Lutzenkirchen and C.J. Uzomah graced the offense. This season, Malzahn and Lindsey feel comfortable in newcomer, Sal Canella to be the player that gives the offense more options in a receiving role.
"Sal has good ball skills, he is really competitive. I like what I have seen from him, he has a little edge about him. He is a smart football player, he knows how to route run, does a great job of catching the ball with his hands, I like what he is bringing to the table so far."
Auburn has the talent to be successful at tight end, but how will the position be used?
"We are figuring ways how to use our personnel to the best of our abilities and to give us the best opportunities, it will be a game plan thing each week."
Working with Malzahn:
For the first time since 2012, Malzahn will be working with a new offensive coordinator. Rhett Lashlee left for UConn after the 2016 season after serving as a protege to Malzahn since Lashlee played High School Football in the mid-2000s. Working with Lindsey is not new for Malzahn, as Lindsey worked as an offensive analyst during the 2010 season, when Malzahn was offensive coordinator.
Lindsey says that his first season back on the Plains has been enjoyable thus far.
"He’s really been great as far as being a guy that you can lean on for advice. From the standpoint of my relationship with him, it’s been great. We have been on the same page offensively, and it’s been a smooth transition."